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Professor Slams ‘Sleazy’ Closed-Door High Tech Lobbying Briefing

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A University of California at Davis professor says a closed-door lobbying meeting on Capitol Hill to promote high skilled immigration to the United States was “incredibly sleazy.”

“A source on Capitol Hill has informed me of an amazing briefing today by a “Who’s Who” of industry lobbying groups (PNAE, CompeteAmerica, American Immigration Lawyers Association, FWD.us etc.), presented to congressional staff. The meeting was closed to the press, which is surprising at first — what lobbyist doesn’t want his/her message to be spread far and wide? — but the reason for excluding the press turns out to be quite startling,” Norm Matloff, a professor of computer science, writes at his blog “Upon Closer Inspection.”

According to Matloff, the briefing’s title, “FACTS YOU CAN USE To Prove That High-Skilled Immigration Is Good for the Economy,” relays the real intent of the meeting. It aims to teach staffers how their politician bosses can explain to “skeptical constituents” that high skilled immigration is beneficial.

I assume there is nothing illegal in that, but it is incredibly sleazy,” he writes.

The professor was also able to obtain a meeting document which he wrote is a “rehash” of industry-funded studies.

“I’ve refuted those arguments before and thus won’t do a point-by-point rebuttal here. But what is fascinating is the arguments presented verbally at the briefing, ranging from the silly to the bizarre,” he wrote.

Matloff looked at some of the arguments that he wrote were discussed in the meeting.

According to Matloff, those arguments included the idea that “H-1B workers increase native-born worker wages because, while it is true they do push some STEM workers out of their field, those workers counterintuitively go on to higher paying jobs…” And “[t]he reason only 1 in 4 STEM graduates work in STEM fields is also largely because our economy is so flexible they can instead go into fields like management, healthcare, law, or finance.”

He argued that it’s “amazing” that the lobbyists are actually admitting that high skilled immigration displaces American Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) workers.

Equally amazing is the apparent concession that H-1B does reduce overall STEM wage levels. Again, they have to admit this, as even the pro-industry Brookings researchers and even the NRC report (with representatives from Intel and Microsoft on the commission) admitted so.

But in making these concessions, the lobbyists seem to be working at cross purposes with themselves. On the one hand, they say that tech is vital to U.S. interests and thus they promote getting more Americans into STEM, while on the other hand saying that it’s not a problem that H-1B suppresses STEM wage growth and thus discourages Americans from pursuing STEM careers.

Do the lobbyists think it’s important for Americans to go into STEM, as they’ve said repeatedly, or not?  They can’t have it both ways.

Matloff continued looking at a STEM wage arguments.

“I’ve cited NACE data showing that salaries for new Computer Science graduates are DECLINING. The lobbyists are apparently conceding this too, and trying to obfuscate by putting this ridiculous spin on the data. But they cannot get around the salient point:  Lack of wage growth means we do NOT have a labor shortage. Period,” he explained.

Concerning to Matloff, besides what he believes to be flawed analysis is the breifing’s “message.”

“[W]hich seems to boil down to, ‘We in the industry are paying you in Congress good money, so you had better vote our way. If your constituents don’t like it, here’s how to fool them into seeing things your way.’ I must again quote Senator Grassley, ‘No one should be fooled,’” he concluded.

Read Matloff’s full post.


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